Ounpuu wins big for 'Autumn Ball'

The 11th edition of the Tallinn Black Nights festival closed Dec. 8 in the Estonian capital on a sense of buoyancy for the local industry more than confirmed by international fest representation and local box office results this year.

Local helmer Veiko Ounpuu took a slate of awards for his “Autumn Ball” (previously honored with the top prize in the Venice Horizons program), including the actress nod for Maarja Jakobson and film kudos in the local comp program, as well as Film Clubs and local critics jury acknowledgment.

The movie may offer a somewhat depressing picture of post-Soviet reality, but local auds certainly enjoyed its elements of black comedy.

The healthy nature of the local industry was the “big surprise” of the event, according to jury prexy Francois da Silva from France.

That was reflected in other events that ran over the fest’s 10-day run. The traditional Baltic Event brought some 140 regional players together for an industry confab, accompanied by a co-production pitching session showcasing 12 projects. Karlo Funk, head of production at the Estonian Film Foundation, noted that the co-production scene has gone beyond cooperation with neighboring states or with Russia, with interest now coming from the U.K. and elsewhere in Western Europe.

Grand Prix went to helmer Ozer Kiziltan for “Takva: A Man’s Fear of God,” a Turkish-German co-production. Russian helmer Alexander Sokurov came away with the director nod for his Chechnya-themed “Alexandra.” Actor kudos went to Zdenek Sverak for his role in Czech-U.K. co-prod “Empties.”


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